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The RIMS Conference and workers comp

While the annual Risk Insurance Management Society Conference is among the largest property and casualty conventions, if you’re looking for the latest information re workers’ comp you will have to go elsewhere.

[disclosure – I’ve keynoted the two main WC conferences over the last year, and was heavily involved in programming for one of them]

I’ve come to this conclusion after attending a dozen or more RIMS shows over the years and working with several entities submitting conference sessions; almost all were rejected.  This year, the Conference planners rejected a session entitled “Attacking the Opioid Crisis in Workers’ Compensation”. This “thanks but no thanks” led me to conclude RIMS just isn’t that interested in, focused on, or perhaps aware of issues relevant to workers’ comp. [more disclosure – I was one of the speakers proposed for the opioid session]

There is no issue more salient, timely, or significant than the opioid crisis, and exposing risk managers and industry executives to this issue would have helped them understand just how critical the situation is.

Reports from the major research institutions linking opioid use to increased medical costs, longer disability duration, and poor outcomes have certainly raised the profile of this issue; The Workers Compensation Institute had several sessions on the topic; the New York Times has seen fit to publish a major article on the impact of opioids on claimants and payers; the National Workers’ Comp and Disability Conference has an entire track on opioids; the American Insurance Association has made addressing the issue a top priority; NCOIL had a lengthy session on the issue at their last meeting and is doing the same at their next get-together.

That’s not to say RIMS doesn’t have some quality sessions – this year’s overview of health reform was well done- but in general WC sessions are few and tend to be basic.

That may well be intentional; RIMS’ audience tends to be less-work-comp-specific than the attendees at the other major conferences cited above.

That said, opioids’ impact on workers’ comp is a topic worthy of attention by the leading P&C industry conference.

7 thoughts on “The RIMS Conference and workers comp”

  1. I have been working on the Veterans Returning To Work program and the technology the government is sponsoring to accomplish this. RIMS replied I should pay for speaking at the conference. I thought better and kept the grant money out of their greedy pockets. Besides, I am sure the decision makers still don’t have smart phones yet…

  2. Joe, could it be that a lot of Risk Managers spend more time “reacting” to claims rather than attempting to mitigate their risk? Seriously, if we acknowledge the Opioid elephant then we are going to have to do something about it…and god forbid we do that?!

  3. Joe,

    RIMS has accepted a panel discussion entitled “Escalating pharmaceutical costs in workers compensation: one clinical solution”, which I will be presenting along with a PBM colleague. This will address medication management and certainly include a focus on opioids and other abused drugs.


  4. I was very disappointed that your session on Opioids was not accepted by RIMS. I thought it would have been an excellent session.

    In a typical year, there are usually only 2-4 work comp sessions at RIMS. One of those is for the NU award winners, and usually there is an intro to WC session.

    I have 3 accepted sessions for next year, but only 1 is work comp specific.

  5. Thanks for pointing this out. Not only are Opioids relevant to comp but they are relevant to casualty/auto and disability. Of greater concern is the opaque acceptance policy of some business conferences and the implication above of ‘pay to play’ at RIMS. Medical conferences have a committee that rigorously reviews submissions and looks at qualitative factors. A psychologist colleague and I submitted a very good proposal to the work comp conference on moral hazards, misdiagnoses, malingering and related matters, that we were sure was scholarly, relevant, and had much actionable and new material, which was rejected with no explanation, while some of the same tired topics were repeated. It was and is unclear if more than one person was involved in programming. I expressed our dissapointment. For us speakers it would have been a contribution. The losers are the attendees who could have genuinely learned something new. We will try again.

    The upcoming work comp conference by my count has no fewer than 7 presentations on opiate abuse. I would think that a couple, including the panel with Joe on it, would suffice.

    1. Brian
      I’m one of the conference chairs for the upcoming National WC & Disability Conference this November.

      The reason there are 8 sessions on the opioid topic is that the Conference decided to dedicate an entire track to this very important topic. The sessions approach the topics from different points of view and with a variety of solutions.

      As to the selection process, I can tell you there were hundreds of submissions for the 40 speaking slots, and it is very difficult to narrow down to the selected sessions. Please do try again next year!

      I would be happy to discuss this with you further if you desire.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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